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The Pinball Wizard Meets His Savior

By Linda Faris, DVM, CVA

 

Last March a scraggly black dog stood outside the fence of a yard in a suburb north of Kansas City.  When the resident dogs noticed him, they created such a commotion barking that their owner, Michele, came outside to see what was going on.  She saw the old dog standing there and immediately knew that he was lost.  She got a leash and showed him to her husband, Bill.  He was weak and emaciated, and he looked sick.  His eyes were dull and had a discharge.  He was filthy and his hair was dull and unkempt.  They were certain that he had an owner somewhere and they decided to keep him overnight.  They put up signs and placed ads in the newspaper and did everything they could to find the old dog's real owner.  In the meantime, they tried to keep him away from their own pets since they didn't know if he had something contagious.   Soon they took him to a veterinarian to make sure that he was not infectious.  The vet wormed him and checked him over.  He had a long list of problems, but at least he was not a threat to the family dogs.  

 

Michele did her best to nurse the old dog, but he was having a lot of trouble.  He couldn't see very well and he was stone deaf.  He kept bumping off the walls and Bill nicknamed him Pinball Wizard, after Elton John's song.  After a few weeks it became apparent no one was looking for the aged canine.  Michele and Bill knew he was their dog...in all his glory. 

 

Wizard's glory was a long list of medical problems.  He was vomiting the food he ate.  He was constipated-except when he had diarrhea.  He wouldn't go to the bathroom unless Michele was outside with him.  Often it would take him forty-five minutes to get the job done.  She was preparing home cooked food for him and spending hours everyNo Description day caring for the sick dog.  Veterinary bills mounted as they ran tests and did treatments trying to help Wizard get stronger.   There was a mass in his abdomen and his vertebrae were partially fused.  They started him on pain medication and a drug to make his intestines move more regularly.  He did get a little better.  His coat improved and he gained a few pounds.  The rehabilitation process was slow and the dog was still very sick. 

 

By mid summer, Wizard was a high-maintenance permanent resident in the household.  Michele was doing energy work on him with Reiki and tuning forks and spent hours every day taking care of him.  She had decided that Wizard could stay with them for as long as he wanted to remain in the physical world.  She told him that she would do all she could to help him stay comfortable and as happy as possible.  That is about the time Charlotte, the dog trainer, told her that she needed to bring the dog to me if she wanted him to live.  Talk about a guilt trip!  Of course, Michele made an appointment right away.

 

Wizard came to my office the first time on July 14th.  He was still in terrible condition: emaciated, dry skin, poor hair coat, runny eyes, and very weak.  I could only imagine what he looked like four months earlier when he was a stray.  Wizard obviously adored and trusted Michele.  What touched me most that day was the fact that Michele and her family went to such extremes to help this sick creature who showed up uninvited at their door.  He was like a frail old man looking for something to live for. 


Knowing how sick he was, Michele and I agreed on a few simple goals for Wizard's future.  We were going to try to improve his digestion and his overall condition.  His comfort and quality of life were our primary concerns.  We both knew that this dog might not have long to live, but someone was going to look after him and love him for the duration. 

 

I made some dietary recommendations to address Wizard's major deficiencies, and started him on vitamins, probiotics and digestive enzyme supplements.  Finally, I prepared a Chinese herbal formula to harmonize his middle and strengthen his system.  Then I sent them home. 

 

A month later, Michele brought Wizard back for his first recheck.  He was doing much better.  He was happy and bright and his stools were firm.  He was eating the new food and not vomiting.  By his second recheck in September, he was off all medications and was doing great.  He had lost all his hair all at once, then he grew a shiny new coat.  


 

Four months into his treatment with alternative medicine, Wizard is now alert and responsive.  He hears and responds to some sounds.  He can see and his eyes aren't draining any more.  He trots after the other dogs and wags his tail.  His digestive function is regular and predictable.  He has a beautiful healthy coat of hair.  And he loves Michele.  She can't even get out of her chair without him lurching to his feet to follow her wherever she goes.  Now that he isn't bumping into walls anymore, Wizard may need a new name.  I would suggest Angel.  Except I think he is the one who found an angel in Michele.  He certainly found a pot of gold in that backyard north of Kansas City.